After a week spent travelling, I zone in on my music today like a traveller zones in on water after a week in the desert. What my soul needs today is a bhajan to soothe away the tiredness of travel. I hesitate not a minute before playing this beautiful song in Raga Sindhu Bhairavi.
I love this beautiful raga so very much! Perhaps because of its name, I imagine myself in the sacred banks of the river Indus, as the day dawns golden, the fertile plains of Sindh stretching all around me, a gentle breeze wafting in the sounds of Guruji singing this bhajan, my eyes flowing like the river beside me.
Who doesn’t know Guru Nanak (1469-1539)? The founder of Sikhism, he stressed the importance of Naam Japan – chanting of God’s name and remembering Him at all times. In this beautiful composition, the Guruji extolls ‘Remember his name, life is passing by’. He then goes on to compare a life without God’s name in many different ways – ‘A tree without fruits’, ‘Earth without clouds’ etc. His advice is to ‘Leave lust, anger, pride and greed’. The words are beautiful with a flow enhanced by the raga in which they are set. I have transcribed the lyrics below. For the full translation, see footnote.
सुमिरन कर ले मेरे मना तेरी बीती जाती उमर हरी नाम बिना रे ||
कूप नीर बिन धेनु क्षीर बिन धरती मेघ बिना |
जैसे तरुवर फल बिन हीना तैसे प्राणी हरी नाम बिना रे ||
देह नैन बिन रैन चन्द्र बिन मंदिर दीप बिना |
जैसे पंडित वेद विहीना तैसे प्राणी हरी नाम बिना रे ||
काम क्रोध मद लोभ निवारो छाड़ दे अब संत जना |
कह नानक तू सुन भगवंता या जग में नहीं कोई अपना ||
To present this song, I have found a remarkable and unique concert by the inimitable Pandit Jasraj of the Hindustani tradition accompanied by the Violin Maestro L.Subramaniam of the Carnatic tradition and his wife Kavita Subramaniam, famous for her singing in the Hindi film industry. It is to L.Subramaniam’s credit that in spite of his name and fame, he has played a supporting role to his elder.
Footnote 1: Translation
Remember God, O mind of mine, life is passing by without remembering his name.
Like a well without water, a cow without milk, like earth without clouds,
Like trees without fruits, so is a being without God’s name .
Like a body without eyes, like a night without a moon, like a temple without a lamp,
Like a learned man without scriptures, so is a being without God’s name.
Be rid of lust, anger, pride and greed, O good people!
Nanak says listen O seekers, no one in this world is your own.